Category: Critical Thinking

When our minds play tricks on us

I really enjoyed Margaret Heffernan’s TED talk on willful blindness. It reminds me that somethings, we are collectively guilty of not seeing the truth, not acknowledging information, essentially being completely biased to a collective reality.

From a different feed, I stumbled on this Fast Company article on the 8 tricks our minds play on us :
1. We surround ourselves with information that matches our beliefs
2. We confuse selection factors with result (the cause rather than the consequence)
3. We worry about things we already lost (sunk cost)
4. We incorrectly predict odds
5. We rationalize purchases we do not want (internalizing cognitive dissonance)
6. We make decisions based on the anchoring effect ( rather than making a decision based on pure value for investment (time, money, and the like), we factor in comparative value–that is, how much value an option offers when compared to another option.)
7. We believe our memories more than facts
8. We pay attention to stereotypes than we think we do

With regards to number 6, Belle Beth Cooper highlights the TED talk by Dan Arielyon, a behavioral economist, cognitive illusions (“: Are we in control of our own decisions?”)

Edward de Bono on “Lateral Thinking” “thinking as a skill” and “six thinking hats”

Edward de Bono has written dozens of books on the thinking process. He came up with the “lateral thinking” meme and even hosted a series of TV shows on the BBC in the 1980 on the subject. Many of his lectures are available on YouTube.

An interesting website: Effective Thinking’s online learning resource with a summary of strategies.

Experiential Learning and the InterPLAY Model from prof. Hirumi

Prof Hirumi I learned so much from the e.SCAPE conference at Concordia – but professor Hirumi inspired me to look into grounding the curriculum I am developing for business information literacy in proven theories.

Professor wrote a book in 2010 on this model:

Call Number LB 1029 S53P53 2010
Title Playing games in school : video games and simulations for primary and secondary classroom instruction / edited by Atsusi “2c” Hirumi
Edition 1st ed
Publisher Eugene, Ore : International Society for Technology in Education, c2010

He also wrote a book chapter in 2006:
Atsusi Hirumi — Designing interaction as a dialogue game : linking social and conceptual dimensions of the learning process
Call Number LB 1044.87 I548 2006
Title Interactions in online education : implications for theory and practice / edited by Charles Juwah
Publisher London ; New York : Routledge, 2006
Prof. Hirumi’s chapter in this book is available here.

In addition, prof. Hirumi offered some great summaries of contemporary proven learning theories For example, see this 30 page summary I found on a conference website (title: Grounding e-Learning Interactions to facilitate Critical Thinking
& Problem Solving)

During the conference, he presented his InterPLAY model, as seen here from a few of his slides:


He also presents it as such in the pdf document linked above (title: Grounding e-Learning Interactions to facilitate Critical Thinking
& Problem Solving )
. On page 19, he describes it as such:

Interplay Strategy
(Stapleton & Hirumi, 2011; Hirumi, Atkinson, & Stapleton, 2011)
Based on the belief that the learning of facts, concepts and principles occurs best in context of how they will be used, the Interplay strategy evokes emotions and sparks imagination, based on cognitive neuroscience research, to enhance experiential learning theories by addressing three primary conventions of interactive entertainment and their related elements (i.e., Story – characters, events, worlds; Game – rules, tools, goals; Play – stimulus, response, consequences).
1. Expose – Exposure provides the back-story to entice empathy for the character or player, and orients the audience into the same reference point or point of view. Exposure sets up specified learning objectives in a meaningful way to invite the student to contribute, to engage and to achieve the challenges set before them.
2. Inquire – Inquiry validates Exposure. If exposure sets a desire to learn, then inquiry is automatic. Inquire provides a response to student’s curiosity with something to do that showcases different elements that will be used later.
3. Discover –Discovery provides the personal reward, achievement, and the “ah ha” moment. The consequences of discovery, whether negative or positive, provide feedback to inspire further exploration to the next level of achievement.
4. Create – Transforms the experience from being merely reactive to truly interactive. Instead of responding to cues, the learner contributes to the content by applying the elements of the subject matter in novel ways.
5. Experiment – Provides an opportunity to assess learning and provide feedback without losing or winning. The goal is less about the hypothesis being right or wrong, but rather setting up the elements of the subject matter so that new knowledge can be gained. Failure should be fun.
6. Share – The sharing of personal experiences and feelings is facilitated at the end of the lesson or unit, to seal the memory of the learning experience. Sharing compels learners to put lessons learned in their own perspective as well as others.

He presented the context of the InterPLAY model as such:


In addition to the books references above, here are some works prof. Hirumy contributed to:
Crippen, K. J., Archambault, L., & Kern, C. (in press). Using Scaffolded Vee Diagrams to Enact Inquiry-Based Learning. In A. Hirumi (Ed.). Grounded Designs for Online and Hybrid Learning: Practical Guidelines for Educators and Instructional Designers. Eugene, WA: International Society for Technology in Education.

Hirumi, A. (2002). Student-centered, technology-rich, learning environments (SCenTRLE): Operationalizing constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. Journal for Technology and Teacher Education, 10(4), 497-537.
Hirumi, A. (1998, March). The Systematic Design of Student-Centered, Technology-Rich Learning Environments. Invited guest presentation given at the first Education Graduate Students and Academic Staff Regional Meeting, Guadalajara, Mexico.
Hirumi, A. (1996, February). Student-Centered, Technology-Rich Learning environments: A cognitive-constructivist approach. Concurrent session held at the Association for Educational Communication and Technology Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Hirumi, A. & Stapleton, C. (in press). Designing InterPLAY Learning Landscapes to Evoke Emotions, Spark the Imagination, and Foster Creative Problem Solving. In A. Hirumi (Ed.). Grounded Designs for Online and Hybrid Learning: Practical Guidelines for Educators and Instructional Designers. Eugene, WA: International Society for Technology in Education.
Hirumi, A., Atkinson, T., Stapleton, C. (2011). Interplay: Evoking Emotions andSparking Imagination through Story, Play and Game. Concurrent Session presented the annual Association for Educational Communication and Technology conference, Jacksonville, FL. Nov. 8-12.
Stapleton, C. & Hirumi, A. (2011). Interplay instructional strategy: Learning by engaging interactive entertainment conventions. In M. Shaughnessy & S. Fulgham (eds). Pedagogical Models: The Discipline of Online Teaching (pp. 183-211). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

ACFAS on critical thinking (French)

ACFAS publishes an essay/interview with Normand Baillargeon on critical thinking On the French Canadian scientific community association’s website:

« Les vertus épistémiques : l’honnêteté intellectuelle, l’intégrité, la capacité de soumettre à la critique d’autrui ce qu’on avance, une certaine et indispensable méfiance à l’endroit de nos sens et de notre mémoire, la capacité d’envisager des hypothèses autres, la pratique du doute constructif, la reconnaissance du caractère faillible de nos connaissances, et ainsi de suite. »

Review of The Filter Bubble by Eli Parizer

I just finished reading The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You by Eli Pariser. It offeres a very interesting exploration into using various search tools and how we find the information that is central to our daily lives.

His main argument has to do with how “filters bubbles” emerge from the algorithms that supply the search results or news feeds for social media websites. Since 2009, Google for example supplies search results that are geared specifically to the user making the query. Gone are the days of obtaining “absolute” Google search results based on our terms (where everyone would see the same results). Now, the results we see are “relative” to our likes and features, as seen by Google – our browser, the location of where we are, and about 50 other variables Google uses to identify us as individuals. So, if two people type in the same keywords, they would see different results based on who they are. The Facebook “News Feed” works the same way, and Pariser has reason to believe that this is applied to other websites as well.

Here are some reading notes and quotes I found really interesting:

The filter bubble introduces 3 dynamics (p.9-10): “we are already in it”, “it is invisible” and “you don’t choose to enter the bubble”. In conjunction of how much information we produce, this leads to what Steve Rubel calls the attention crash (p.11).

On “our information diet” : “By definition, a world constructed from the familiar is a world in which there’s nothing to learn.” (p.15) In Robert Putman’s Bowling Alone, we are loosing (p.17) the “bonding capital” (being alike, creating bridges) and “bridging capital” (being able to talk to people not like us).

Facebook’s EdgeRank uses three variables: affinity (how much time we send interacting with someone); the relative weight of the content (relationship status updates vs. pokes); and recency (p.38).

“If trust i news agency is falling, it is rising in the new realm of amateur and algorithmic curation” (p. 66)

The CIA book on information analysis by Heuer (p. 81): The psychology of intelligence analysis also, check out this free version from the CIA website.

“Personalization can get in the way of creativity and innovation in three ways. First, the filter bubble artificially limits the size of our “solution horizon” – the mental space in which we search for solutions to problems. Second, the information environment inside the filter bubble will tend to lack some of the key traits that spur creativity. Creativity is a context dependent trait: We’re more likely to come up with new ideas in some environments than others; the contexts that filtering creates aren’t the ones best suited to creative thinking. Finally, the filter bubble encourages a more passive approach to information, which is a odds with the kind of exploration that leads to discovery.” (p. 94) Mentions The Art of Creation by Arthur Koestler.

Creativity generally has two parts: generative thinking (reshuffling and recombining) ; convergent thinking (survey options) (p. 103)

“If a self-fulfilling prophecy is a false definition of the world that through one’s actions becomes true, we’re now on the verge of self-fulfilling identities” (p. 112). […] “On sirens and children” by Yochai Benkler (p.112) “Autonomy, Benkler points out, is a tricky concept: To be free, you have to to be able not only to do what you want, but to know what’s possible to do.”

“fundamental attribution error. We tend to attribute peoples’ behavior to their inner traits and personality rather than to the situation they’re placed in,” (p. 116)

“In the future, we want to be all well-rounded, well-informed intellectual virtuoso, but right now we want to watch Jersey Shore. Behavioral economists call this present bias – the gap between your preferences for your future self and your preferences in the current moment.” (p. 117)

“Priming effect” (p. 124) – getting people to learn a sequence of words with a theme primes them to think in a way.

“With information as with food, we are what we consume. […] Your identity shapes your media, and your media then shapes what you believe and what you care about. […] You become trapped in a you loop” (p. 125)

“If identity loops aren’t counteracted through randomness and serendipity, you could end up stuck in the foothills of your identity” (p.127) – adapted from Matt Cohler’s “Local-Maximum Problem” – when trying to maximize something – try to go up a mountain, you should always rise – byt you could be stuck on a hill next to the mountain.

Overfitting: being stuck in a class that does not fit us – “a regression to the social norm” (p. 129) “But the overfitting problem gets to one of the central, irreducible problems of the filter bubble: Stereotyping and overfitting are synonyms” (p.131) The problem of finding a pattern in the data that is there and the problem of finding a pattern that is really not there.

David Hume and Karl Popper in the induction problem (p.133) All swans I see are white, therefore all swans are white.

“Fyodor Dostoyevsky, whose Notes from the Underground was a passionate critique of the utopian scientific rationalism of the day.” (p. 135) “But algorithmic induction can lead to a kind of information determinism” (p.135)

“China’s objective isn’t so much to blot out unsavory information as to alter the physics around it – to create friction for problematic information and to route public attention to progovernment forums. While it can’t block all of the people from all of the news all of the time, it doesn’t need to. «What the government cares about,» Atlantic journalist James Fellows writes, «is making the quest for information just enough of a nuisance that people generally won’t bother» The strategy, says Xiao Qiang of the University of California at Berkeley, is «about social control, human survailance, peer pressure, and self-censorship.»” (p.139)

“James Mulvenon, the head of the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, puts it this way: ” There’s a randomness to their enforcement, and that creates a sense that they’re looking at everything.” (p. 140)

On governments manipulate the truth “Rather than simply banning certain words or opinions outright, it’ll increasingly revolve around second-order censorship – the manipulation of curation, context, and the flow of information and attention.” (p.141)

Sir Francis Bacon = “Knowledge is power” “If knowledge is power, then asymmetries in knowledge are asymmetries in power” (p. 147)

David Bohm On Dialogue “To communicate, Bohm wrote, literally means to make something common” (p.162-3) Jurgen Habermas “the dean of media theory for much of the twentieth century, had similar views”

«Kranzberg’s first law: “Technology is neither good or bad, nor is it neutral”» (p.188)

“In this book, I’ve argued that the rise of pervasive, embedded filtering is changing the way we experience the Internet and ultimately the world. […] Technology designed to give us more control over our lives is actually taking control away.” (p. 218-9)

“Appointing an independent ombudsman and giving the world more insight into how the powerful filtering algorithms work would be an important first step.” (p. 231)